By BassFan Staff

Rain poured down on the weigh-in for the abbreviated final day of the Lake Seminole Bassmaster Elite Series. Afterward, another big pile of money was poured on Brett Hite.

Hite logged his second tour-level win of 2014 on Sunday, catching a 25-15 stringer to conclude with a 97-10 total. The Arizonan, who won the Lake Okeechobee FLW Tour last month and finished 6th at that circuit's derby at Lake Hartwell a week prior to Seminole, has now banked almost a quarter-million dollars from the three top-level derbies that have been conducted this year.

Seminole marked his Elite Series debut – he competed on the Bassmaster Tour for 5 years through 2005, then took a year off before spending the past 7 years as an FLW-only pro.

"This one is definitely a big achievement in my career," he said. "To win just one FLW or Bassmaster event in a year is a huge accomplishment because we work so hard and they do not come easy. I didn't have a good practice until the last day, but it ended up being a perfect week."

He finished exactly 13 pounds in front of runner-up Todd Faircloth, who boxed a stout 27-11 on a final day that was shortened from 8 hours to 5 1/2 due to the impending severe thunderstorms. His 84-10 aggregate bumped him up 10 places in the standings.

Veteran Mark Davis notched his second straight Top-3 finish in regular-season Elite events (he was 2nd at last year's finale at Lake St. Clair) with an 18-10 stringer that gave him an 80-09 total. Takahiro Omori now has back-to-back regular-season 4th-place finishes as his 19-14 bag pushed his total to 78-04.

Kevin Short ended up 5th – his best showing since his second Elite victory at Pickwick Lake in 2010. He caught 15-11 today to conclude with 76-06.

Here are the final totals for the remainder of the Top 12:

6. Aaron Martens: 72-11
7. Bernie Schultz: 72-00
8. Shaw Grigsby: 70-12
9. Byron Velvick: 67-06
10. Justin Lucas: 62-11
11. Andy Montgomery: 59-10
12. Charlie Hartley: 57-07

Martens had a less-than-stellar final day (four fish for 12-11), but his finish was nonetheless a superb start to his defense of his 2013 Angler of the Year (AOY) title. Remarkably, he's now advanced to the final day in the last six regular-season derbies, although he hasn’t won in almost 5 years.

The anglers launched under relatively benign conditions – cloudy skies and light winds – but forecasts left little doubt as to what was coming in regard to weather. And come it did.

B.A.S.S./Gary Tramontina
Photo: B.A.S.S./Gary Tramontina

Todd Faircloth's final two bags at Seminole combined to weigh 51 1/2 pounds.

The clouds got thicker and darker throughout the morning and the wind steadily increased until it was blowing at a sustained 25 mph. The drive-by weigh-in was conducted in a torrential downpour.

The circuit immediately moves on to the St. Johns River in Palatka, Fla., about a 4-hour drive from the Seminole launch site in Bainbridge, Ga. Anglers will practice Monday through Wednesday, with the tournament getting under way Thursday.

Quick Start for Hite

> Day 4: 5, 25-15 (20, 97-10)

Although he started day 4 with a lead of almost 12 pounds, Hite admitted to a little bit of trepidation when he took to the water this morning.

"I was a little worried," he said. "I definitely wanted to get off to a good start. Once I got a limit, I was able to calm down and just fish."

He boxed about 14 pounds in the first hour, and that settled his nerves nicely. That amount would've been enough to win, be he went on to nearly double it.

"I probably had 16 pounds when I left my first spot. At my second area I caught one that was about 6 and that got me up there pretty good, to about 19 or 20.

"Then I went to a stretch where I caught most of my big fish and maybe 10 minutes in I came to a little point off a canal opening. I tossed my ChatterBait up there and my rod just doubled – that fish was almost 8 pounds.

"I didn't really need that fish," he continued, "but that's when I really knew (he would win). I mean, it meant Mark Davis would have to have 35 pounds, and that's not likely to happen on a 5 1/2-hour day."

B.A.S.S./Gary Tramontina
Photo: B.A.S.S./Gary Tramontina

Dating back to last season, Mark Davis now has back-to-back Top-3 finishes in regular-season events.

A Chatterbait produced every fish he caught throughout the week – both in practice and during the tournament. He threw it primarily on main-lake banks that had grass where the bottom dropped quickly from approximately 2 to 6 feet.

Full details of his winning pattern, as well as those of the other top finishers, will be published in the coming days.

2nd: Faircloth Finished with Flourish

> Day 4: 5, 27-11 (20, 84-10)

Faircloth was the only angler who came close to matching Hite over the weekend – the winner outdueled him 52-04 to 51-07.

"I didn't really think about (where he'd end up in the standings), I just wanted to go out today and catch as much as I could," the four-time Elite Series winner said. "It was kind of weird; I pulled up where I caught that good bag yesterday and got a 7-pounder right off the bat, and then a 2 1/2, and then they just quit. I had a couple of short strikes but I never hooked up there again."

He began a move to a place where he'd seen some fish on beds the previous day, but discovered the water level had fallen and his boat was scraping the bottom. It would've taken him at least a half-hour to get in via an alternate route, so he scrapped that idea and headed back for his starting location.

"I stopped on a place about a quarter-mile away from there where I'd gotten one bite in practice. It was 11 o'clock when I got there and for 15 minutes I was catching them every cast.

"I just hit that wad of fish at the right time. They were feeding and they were big ones."

3rd: Davis' Day was So-So

> Day 4: 5, 18-10 (20, 80-09)

Davis had an extremely consistent event as there was less than a pound and a half of variance among his four bags. Today's haul was his smallest.

"It was an okay day, it wasn't great," he said. "I caught a limit early and culled a few times. They were nice fish, but I never got any big bites. The biggest one I had was a 4-pounder."

He employed various techniques throughout the derby, depending upon the circumstances. Today's windy, low-light conditions were suited to quick-moving baits.

"With a short day, I really didn't have time to try a whole lot – I had to stick with what I knew would work. I threw a crankbait about 80 percent of the time.

"Today wasn't really a flipping day. I caught a couple doing that, but none that I weighed in."

4th: Omori Missed some Chances

> Day 4: 5, 19-14 (20, 78-04)

Omori was pleased with his high finish, but not with the number of big fish he lost throughout the event.

"I feel like I could've done better," he said. "(Hite) blew this thing out, so I was fishing for 2nd, but the first day I lost a 7-pounder and the second day I had a 6 take the bait and get off.

"I was around a lot of good fish, so I feel like I could've finished higher. That's all a part of it, I guess."

He boated only five keepers today.

"I missed three or four more good bites. I wish I knew why that was happening."

5th: Short Fired Up

> Day 4: 5, 15-11 (20, 76-06)

Short hopes his high finish is the start of a good year in the wake of several lackluster campaigns.

"When I look back at the previous 3 or 4 years (prior to 2010), I don't want to say I was a regular in the Top 12, but I'd make a couple every year," he said. "Not making one for so long kind of chaps my (rear end).

"I've worked really hard to rearrange some things in my head, and hopefully I can start heading back in the right direction."

He got five bites today and boated them all. Unfortunately, none weighed more than 3 1/2 pounds.

"I spent the first couple of ours out there (in deeper water) trying for a big bag. I caught a couple decent ones, but after awhile I decided that wasn't working out. I jumped up on the banks and fished the shallow stuff where I knew I could catch 14 or 15 pounds and I got three more.

"I ran some other stuff where I'd gotten big bites on the first day or in practice, but there was just nothing happening."

Notable

> > Day 4 stats – 12 anglers, 5 limits, 2 fours, 1 three, 3 twos, 1 one.

> Schultz (7th) was another competitor who struggled with lost fish today. "I'm disappointed because I had enough bites to stay in the Top 3," he said. "My conversion percentage was really bad; I landed three out of eight."

Day 4 (Final) Standings

1. Brett Hite -- Phoenix, AZ -- 20, 97-10 -- 100 $100,500
Day 1: 5, 24-11 -- Day 2: 5, 20-11 -- Day 3: 5, 26-05 -- Day 4: 5, 25-15

2. Todd Faircloth -- Jasper, TX -- 20, 84-10 -- 99 -- $25,000
Day 1: 5, 20-15 -- Day 2: 5, 12-04 -- Day 3: 5, 23-12 -- Day 4: 5, 27-11

3. Mark Davis -- Mount Ida, AR -- 20, 80-09 -- 98 -- $20,000
Day 1: 5, 21-00 -- Day 2: 5, 20-13 -- Day 3: 5, 20-02 -- Day 4: 5, 18-10

4. Takahiro Omori -- Emory, TX -- 20, 78-04 -- 97 -- $15,000
Day 1: 5, 19-11 -- Day 2: 5, 14-15 -- Day 3: 5, 23-12 -- Day 4: 5, 19-14

5. Kevin Short -- Mayflower, AR -- 20, 76-06 -- 96 -- $14,000
Day 1: 5, 25-09 -- Day 2: 5, 17-10 -- Day 3: 5, 17-08 -- Day 4: 5, 15-11

6. Aaron Martens -- Leeds, AL -- 19, 72-11 -- 95 -- $13,500
Day 1: 5, 17-05 -- Day 2: 5, 13-00 -- Day 3: 5, 29-11 -- Day 4: 4, 12-11

7. Bernie Schultz -- Gainesville, FL -- 18, 72-00 -- 94 -- $14,500
Day 1: 5, 26-14 -- Day 2: 5, 17-10 -- Day 3: 5, 17-02 -- Day 4: 3, 10-06

8. Shaw Grigsby Jr. -- Gainesville, FL -- 19, 70-12 -- 93 -- $13,000
Day 1: 5, 30-05 -- Day 2: 5, 12-05 -- Day 3: 5, 16-09 -- Day 4: 4, 11-09

9. Byron Velvick -- Boerne, TX -- 16, 67-06 -- 92 -- $12,000
Day 1: 5, 16-07 -- Day 2: 4, 17-04 -- Day 3: 5, 24-08 -- Day 4: 2, 09-03

10. Justin Lucas -- Guntersville, AL -- 17, 62-11 -- 91 -- $11,500
Day 1: 5, 17-08 -- Day 2: 5, 25-09 -- Day 3: 5, 15-03 -- Day 4: 2, 04-07

11. Andy Montgomery -- Blacksburg, SC -- 17, 59-10 -- 90 -- $11,000
Day 1: 5, 15-10 -- Day 2: 5, 15-11 -- Day 3: 5, 23-09 -- Day 4: 2, 04-12

12. Charlie Hartley -- Grove City, OH -- 16, 57-07 -- 89 -- $10,500
Day 1: 5, 19-07 -- Day 2: 5, 16-01 -- Day 3: 5, 20-08 -- Day 4: 1, 01-07

Big Bass

Bernie Schultz -- 10-10 (Day 1) -- $1,000